How have the philosphies of punishment in modern times been influenced by the historical practices dating back to the Code of Hammurabi?
Around 1750 BC, King Hammurabi of Babylon created a collection of 282 laws that bears his name. While not the most prominent historical source of contemporary punishment, it is among the most well-known and its fundamentals remain salient today. Perhaps the most well-known of Hammurabi's codified laws is the biblical law of lex talionis, or “an eye for an eye” that asserts that any criminal punishment should inflict the same harm upon the offender that the offender inflicted upon his/her victim. In other words, the punishment must fit the crime. These "just deserts" lie at the heart of modern retributive theory which--along with incarceration, rehabilitation, and deterrence--comprise contemporary penological goals. However, the Code also delineates other applications of laws which remain highly influential such as a presumption of innocence and each party's right to present evidence on his or her own behalf: two fundamental aspects of modern criminal justice, particularly in the United States. Other applications of Hammurabi's foresight include laws related to theft, divorce, liability, slander and libel, workers' rights, and contracts.